A term that has come to mean any formidable, huge or monstrous creature. The word is also associated with Satan, and identified as one of his demons, put in charge of all of the maritime regions. In some accounts the creature is credited or blamed, to be more precise with being the serpent who seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The word 'Leviathan' in Hebrew means approximately 'that which gathers itself into folds' or 'that which is drawn out'. There is much confusion about the translation of the word in its biblical context, however it seems to refers to some huge animal, almost certainly linked with water. Some translators think the word might refer to a crocodile, others that it is a whale, or even a large ship. The Leviathan of the English poet William Blake (1757-1827) was a coiled sea serpent.
"The arrow cannot make him flee; for him slingstones are turned to stubble.
Upon earth there is not his like....he is king over all the sons of pride."
Job 41: 28, 33-34.
The preceding description of Leviathan as one of the forces of evil happens in one of five biblical passages that mention the monster. To the Hebrew authors of the Bible the expression Leviathan was probably only a general one, meaning any great land or sea monster. Their highly colored descriptions of this great beast may well have been founded on a variety of creatures they knew or had heard about: the sperm whale, which the Phoenicians hunted; the Egyptian crocodile, whose range at that time extended to Palestine; the African python, rumors of which had reached the biblical lands through paintings of the serpent in Egyptian temples; and the primeval dragon of Middle Eastern myth. However, in a detailed study of sea monster reports, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (1968), the eminent French cryptozoologist Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans advanced another theory. He claimed that certain phrases in the description of Leviathan in Job 41 "When he raises himself up the mighty are afraid" and "His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal" suggest that the monster may have been a long-necked sea serpent, of which there are many sightings reported today off New England and California.
According to legend, the Leviathan was a fire-breathing creature of such immense size that the sea boils when it swims on the surface. It ruthlessly and fearlessly rules over all the creatures of the sea. The Leviathan's skin is like a double coat of mail, with overlapping scales as large as shields on its back, and as sharp and hard as broken pottery on its underparts. Swords and harpoons will simply bounce off such protection. It breathes smoke from its nostrils and flames from its mouth which is rimmed with teeth. Its fins radiate a brilliant light and its eyes are like the glimmerings of dawn.
There were originally two leviathans created, but when it seemed as if the pair might destroy the earth with their combined strength, God killed one of them. The "garments of skin" fashioned by God for Adam and Eve, also known as "garments of light", were made from the skin of the slain Leviathan. The Leviathan is one of the three creatures which will be served at the banquet feast at the end of time. Afterwards, its skin is to be stretched as a canopy from the walls of Jerusalem to illuminate the world.
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Sources: Article is scheduled to be reviewed.
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